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Asbestos Pipe Work Leads to Guilty Plea

Monday, February 15, 2016

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The improper removal and disposal of asbestos during pipeline work led a 60-year-old Kennard, TX, man to admit guilt for federal environmental violations, U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced Tuesday (Feb. 9).

Rodney K. Beshears pleaded guilty to violating the work practice standards of the Clean Air Act before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roy Payne in the Eastern District of Texas.

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Rodney K. Beshears pleaded guilty to violating the work practice standards of the Clean Air Act for the improper removal and disposal of asbestos on two pipeline sites.

Beshears was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 3, 2014. Under federal statutes, Beshears could face up to five years in federal prison at sentencing.  A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.   

Inspection Timeline

Beshears and his employees were at work in October 2011 excavating and removing a pipeline in near Diana, TX, in the northeast portion of the state, Bales reported.

An inspector with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) conducted a site inspection on Dec. 16, 2011, and informed Beshears that the pipeline contained an asbestos coating. 

Five days later, Beshears received training on asbestos removal practices, including instruction on the proper handling of asbestos material required under the work practice standards of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) rules for asbestos when excavating and removing pipe with a coating of asbestos. 

A second inspection of Beshears’ worksites occurred Jan. 13, 2012, when the DSHS visited a pipeline site just outside of Ore City, TX, where Beshears was also performing excavation and removal work. The inspector again informed Beshears that the pipe had a coating of asbestos material.

This pipeline removal jobs continued through March 2012. Beshears and his employees, under direction, are reported to have removed several thousand feet of pipeline with regulated asbestos-containing material between Diana and Ore City, TX. 

Improper Practices

Despite the instruction Beshears received during training, the excavation, cutting and removal of the pipeline that occurred under his direction included no wetting of the asbestos material that coated the pipeline, Bales said.

Instead, employees struck the pipe coating with a hammer, crumbling and pulverizing the asbestos material in order to remove it and expose the pipe for dismantling. The asbestos was also crumbled and pulverized when employees dragged the cut pipe segments across the ground.

Finally, the asbestos was not disposed of at approved disposal facilities, Beshears admitted in court. 

Additional Information

The maximum five-year statutory sentence Beshears faces is prescribed by Congress; however, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. 

This case was investigated by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Dallas, TX; the TCEQ’s Criminal Investigation Division; and the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Noble.

   

Tagged categories: Asbestos; Clean Air Act; Criminal acts; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; Pipeline; Pipes

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